Which GT showcase invites you to submerge your hand in a roiling tub of fly larvae, hear the reflections of a student ecologist decked out in her waders and enjoy a simulated float down the Chattahoochee River? SLS’s Student Showcase, naturally! This past November, more than fifty presenters from all six colleges awed the judges at the first semiannual SLS Student Showcase. The competing projects engaged with the Sustainable Development Goals and with the SLS theme of creating sustainable communities. It was a delight—and a challenge—to judge the entries. The three showcase winners embraced very different problems and approached them in diverse, creative ways. Third place winner and Sustainable Cities (CEE 4803) student Rachel Elliott exhibited a poster describing her clothing line, Vokse, of “compostable and disposable clothing.” As Rachel explained, Vokse’s compostable clothes made of flax, hemp varietals and cotton and dyed with eucalyptus and sassafras “are grown, woven, and retired in the same facility,” circumventing the cycle of waste that characterizes mass-produced garments and the chemicals, dyes, and synthetic polymers with which they are conventionally made.
A team of two students, Andie Rocca and Jon Long, from the SLS Foundation Course 3803, Technology and Sustainable Community Development, snagged second place. As team member Jon Long wrote, their project offers a “visualization of the changing property values in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods of Westside Atlanta, a [tool that can] aid the Westside Atlanta Land Trust and the city of Atlanta as a whole in keeping residents in their homes.” First place was awarded to a team of Technology and Poverty (INTA 8803) students with an idea produced through their own research on the challenges that new immigrants and refugees face in acclimating to their adoptive home communities in and around Atlanta. As team member Azalea Irani told the judges, the students interviewed a number of refugee families and found that their digitally literate teenagers were translating a great deal of information for their parents; the app team members designed offers refugee parents information—in their native language—on where and how to access social services critical to daily life in their new homes.
Finally, we celebrated our faculty, too, through SLS Excellence in Teaching Awards. Ellen Zegura, John Taylor, Neha Mohammadi, Kim Cobb, Britta Kallin, Carol Thurman, Kris Chatfield, Emily Weigel, and her four dynamic TAs-- Rachana Adhikari, Angela Pena Gonzalez, Melissa Ruszczyk, and Qianna Xu-- were all awarded certificates for SLS Excellence in Teaching. John Taylor and Ellen Zegura shared the special distinction of Outstanding Teacher, as several students nominated each of them. All awards were based on student nominations; those comments described nominated faculty as “passionate,” “wonderful,” “motivating,” and “life-changing.” Three cheers to the terrific student and faculty winners—thank you for sharing with us your exciting work to create sustainable communities! We invite you to submit your spring projects to spring semester’s showcase on April 17. Keep an eye out for the application announcement in our SLS newsletter and on our website!